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Theft Versus Robbery Charges, What’s The Difference?
Posted on November 23, 2020
Have you ever wondered about the difference is between theft and robbery charges? While both do involve stealing something and a criminal record, there are more differences than that. Below we will explain each term and highlight the key differences.
Definition For Theft & Robbery
As defined by the Criminal Code, a person commits theft when he or she takes something without a colour of right (a legal claim to the property). The individual commits the act with the intent of depriving the owner of the item either temporarily or absolutely.
Theft can be place in categories such as petty theft (less than $5000) or grand theft (over $5000). Canada doesn’t use these terms but often times people hear and understand this from television. In Canada, a person could face charges for theft under $5,000 or theft over $5,000. Both are taken seriously by the Crown, and an individual, if convicted, can end up with a criminal record or jail time.
What about fraud? Is that theft as well? Like theft, we can categorize fraud based on an amount of less than $5,000 or more than $5,000. When laying charges, the prosecutor considers the complexity of the fraudulent activity. Although both fraud and theft involve taking property from another person, fraud is when one uses deceit and misrepresentation. There are many types of fraud, including identity fraud, employment scams, charity fraud, real estate fraud, and consumer fraud.
Robbery, as defined by the Criminal Code, occurs when a person uses violence during or immediately before or after the theft. A robbery involves assaulting a person with the intent of stealing from them. Armed robbery falls under the same classification. However, the use of a weapon or the imitation of a weapon is a part of the theft.
Key Difference Between Theft & Robbery
Based on these two definitions, we can see that the two are similar. The key difference is the use of, or absence of, violence to steal. Theft is the extortion of property, while robbery is the extortion of property combined with the use of a weapon, threats of violence, or violence.
Theft Charges In Canada
How does a theft charge work? The Crown Prosecutor will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, three key elements.
- First, the person moved, started to move, or caused the item to be moved, which belonged to someone else.
- Second, the person moved the property with the intent to steal without the owner’s consent.
- Lastly, the estimated value of the property when the theft occurred. When an individual faces charges of theft in Canada, the court may consider the in
When an individual faces charges of theft in Canada, the court may consider the individual’s pre-existing criminal record. The judge will also look at the value of the stolen goods or the breached level of trust. For a petty theft under $5,000, the Criminal Code grants up to two years in prison. For grand theft of over $5,000, the Code allows up to 10 years of prison time. Other penalties may include probation, community service, or fines.
Some considerations will need to be examined in court when deciding on a sentence. If a person already has a criminal record and a history of theft, the sentence is likely to be more severe. If this is a first-time offence of under $5,000, the person may be eligible for a diversion program or discharge to avoid a criminal record. However, even first-time offenders of petty theft may end up with a criminal record. That’s why it’s always in your best interest to seek legal advice and hire a defence lawyer when charged with a crime.
Robbery Charges In Canada
Because robbery charges involve a threat or use of violence, it is always an indictable offence. Depending on the case or if there was use of a restricted firearm, a mandatory minimum sentence could be imposed. A robbery charge sentence will be harsher than theft, with a possible maximum life imprisonment punishment.
Penalties depend on multiple factors. One factor that may be considered is whether the defendant a first-time offender. Another factor is whether or not there was use of a firearm in the commission of the offence. A criminal defence lawyer will analyze evidence, charges, and possible sentencing to best defend your case
Using threats, but not physically harming the victim, can still get you charged with robbery. The alleged victim will likely assert that he or she had a reasonable fear based on the threats made. For example, they can say they feared a weapon would be used or that the defendant’s size was intimidating to them.
Being charged with robbery is more severe than theft. But that doesn’t mean the courts will wave theft charges. Never assume that stealing something with seemingly little value will not turn into a criminal case.
Are you currently facing charges for theft, robbery or armed robbery? Reach out for advice from one of our criminal defence lawyers at Ross Lutz Barristers today. We are serious lawyers who defend serious charges.